UNAUTHORIZED BORDER CROSSING LOCATIONS
When crossing from the United States to Baja, Mexico or from Baja to the United States, one must utilize one of the existing border crossings sanctioned by the two governments. It's the law. With six legal border crossings between the United States and Baja, why would anyone want to cross the border at other locations that are not legal? Especially now, with the new border fence running form California to Texas.
Obviously there are more than a few reasons why Mexicans would want to cross the border at random locations heading northbound to the United States. Whether they are heading to the U.S. temporarily to earn money to send home, or sneaking in to the U.S. to make a new permanent life, thousands of Mexicans cross the Baja / US border every month at unauthorized border locations.
But why would a Gringo headed south to Mexico want to cross the border at a non-authorized border location? For some it might just be the adventure of traversing an open border with no government supervision. For others it might be a more direct way to reach a Baja destination without driving too far out of the way. Mark Twain wass the kind of guy who might have tried this kind of stunt.
Case in point, several years ago Carlos Fiesta and his buddy Mike wanted to visit the hot springs at Canon de Guadalupe, south west of Mexicali. The Tecate border crossing was too far west and the Calexico border crossing was too far east. Carlos and his road trip buddy decided to blaze a new trail across the US / Mexico border through the open desert south west of El Centro. How did it work out? Let's just say it was an adventure they will never forget.
To summarize, it is illegal to cross the border from Baja to the U.S. or from the U.S. to Baja unless an authorized border crossing is used. But it is also illegal to drive at 65 miles per hour on Interstate 5 in Los Angeles, and that fact does not seem to slow too many people down. The moral to the story? If you are crossing the border at some random border location just be aware that, if caught, you might be getting yourself into some serious Bandini.
Curious about the current wait time at the legal US/Mexico border crossings? Just drop by the US CUSTOMS BORDER WAIT TIME web site!
EAST OF SAN DIEGO
The U.S terrain east of Otay Mesa is rolling hills and open terrain for miles on end. There are some dirt roads that head south from the U.S. and connect directly to Mexico Highway 2-D where it kisses the US / Mexico border. Since Mexico Highway 2-D is a toll road access to the blacktop is not always available. Also remember that this area is heavily fortified by the green and white trucks of the U.S. border patrol, and if you get caught heading north or south in the area..."Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do".
EAST OF TECATE
California Highway 94 kisses the border about 8 miles east of Tecate. The hills are more rugged here than to the west, but there are dirt roads here that cross the border. Mexico Highway 2 is just over two miles below the border and there are various Mexican villages in the area.
For years the borders at Jacumba were porous into Mexico and going from the U.S. to the Mexican village of Jacume was standard procedure for hundreds of Mexicans every month. In the late 1990's the U.S. government cracked down on this pass-through border, and a more significant fence was erected. It is approximately six miles from the border to Mexico Highway 2 and Mexico Toll Highway 2-D.
WEST OF CALEXICO
There are dozens of miles of open border west of Calexico, just south of California Highway 98. And there are several dirt roads heading south along this stretch of black top that appear to head towards the border. In reality many of these road become dead ends, as they only serve as pick up points to load illegals heading north into the U.S. (see story above). Once these roads get near the border they turn into dirt paths used by the coyotes and Mexicans heading north. There are a few roads that travel through rough and dangerous territory that do connect to Mexico Highway 2-D, about 20 miles west of Mexicali.
EAST OF CALEXICO
This section of the U.S. / Mexico border offers some of the most inhospitable terrain and climate in the United States. Temperatures can reach 120+ degrees, there is no water or shade, and you'd have to be an idiot to even think about crossing the border anywhere between Calexico and the Arizona border. Now that we've go the disclosures out of the way, California Highway 98 runs parallel to the border here for over 30 miles. It's a tough 6 miles form the U.S border to Mexico Highway 8, and then once you get there you are still in the middle of nowhere. Take some advice from Carlos Fiesta, unless you have a suicide wish, do not attempt to cross the border here.
CARLOS FIESTA'S HOT TIP
Just a reminder that crossing the U.S / Mexico border anywhere other than an official border crossing location is illegal and dangerous. The fact that thousands of Mexicans do it every month does not make it a good idea.